Impact on Landscape and Pennsylvania
''If you want to see how invasive a wind farm can be, just take a ride in Schuylkill County,'' he wrote. ''A ridge that stretches from Mahanoy City to Centralia, an area of the best hunting and passive recreational woods in that part of the county, has been ruined with these monstrosities.''
I had not visited that area for years, and the worst environmental damage I recalled was from anthracite mining. That, however, had a legitimate purpose; wind turbines are a scam that serves only to enrich those who peddle and build them.
An eight-page Deficiency Letter from DEP on March 17 cites unacceptable plans for restoration of disrupted streams, an undisclosed timber disturbance, improper labeling and scaling of the construction site drawing, inadequate documentation of approval by the Federal Aviation Administration, etc.
Gamesa hasn't satisfactorily met its legal obligation to consult with the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory. This is especially egregious because of the presence of state and federally endangered Indiana bats at the site.
On March 17, the state Department of Environmental Protection rejected for a third time Gamesa Energy's plan to install industrialized wind turbines on Shaffer Mountain. What part of "no" doesn't Gamesa - and Berwind Corp. - understand?
DEP's eight-page "Technical Deficiency Letter" was sent to Timothy Vought of Shaffer Mountain Wind LLC and lists questions that must be answered if the permit application is to be resubmitted.
Now, there are people who think it may be a good idea to build wind turbines on the Kittatinny Ridge (Blue Mountain). On Monday, a letter to the editor from Donald Heintzelman of Zionsville talked about the first such proposal.
Lower Towamensing Township, he noted, is considering a request to put windmills around the Blue Mountain Ski Area. Heintzelman said that would place them in the path of America's most spectacular migratory route for eagles, hawks and other raptors.
"As an ornithologist involved in raptor migrations ... I am unconditionally opposed to the installation of all wind turbines on this internationally famous ... migration corridor," he wrote.
I am unconditionally opposed to it for other reasons, as well.
"Symbolism aside, Potter and Tioga County mountain ridges may not be as impressive as Yosemite's El Capitan, or the Grand Tetons, but something very real would be sacrificed on the questionable altar of Renewable Energy for Profit. Potter and Tioga county mountain ridges are not just a backyard. They are a heritage and a legacy. And they are as good a place as any to make a stand."
Preserve the beauty of our region, say no to industrial wind.
The quarry is one operation with active quarrying being done on approximately 30 acres - self-contained. Would Gamesa's Wind Project be self-contained - I don't think so! Where the quarry is one operation - Gamesa would have 30 operations - for starters! Gamesa's 30 operations would be located in the "heart" of the Piney Run Wilderness Area, atop the many ridges where below, the exceptional value streams flow.
The destruction from sight clearings, turbine installations, plus approximately 18 miles of interconnecting roads and transmission lines over the many ridge-tops would devastate not only the land area, but also the bird, fish, wildlife and eco-system of Shaffer Mountain.
Mr. Irons, your "spin" is nothing more than personal greed, the "Almighty Dollar", when it comes to Shaffer Mountain! ...I believe in leaving something "unspoiled" for future generation. My legacy is not $5,000 per wind turbine, per year, as is yours. My legacy is to protect the natural beauty of Shaffer Mountain from hypocrites such as you. With you Mr. Irons - It's all about money and nothing more.
Our area, in particular, does not seem to possess an accurate spot for windmills. Somerset County seems to be a target area for the windmill companies, which is fine, but no one seems to consider all parties involved. In my opinion, money has blinded many eyes and covered many ears.
Is everyone taking into consideration the wildlife and trees that are abandoned and lost? What about the constant noises that can affect the nearby homeowners and their families? Somerset is a rural area. Many people retreat to our town to get away from life in the city and the sight of windmills seems to disturb the country scene that everyone has grown to know and love. ...I’m not anti-energy, but if proper locations are not located in Somerset, then windmills should be situated somewhere else, preferably a place where they seem more fitting and they will have less of an impact on people and nature.
But the fact is that while wind power is being promoted as an essential part of any credible response to climate change, it is increasingly being challenged and questioned, as indeed is the case with other so-called "renewable" forms of energy, such as corn-based ethanol. ...a National Research Council study released this year entitled "Environmental Effects of Wind Energy Projects," concluded that based on the expected maximum number of windmills to be built, wind would offset total expected higher carbon emissions by no more that 2.25 percent.
Is that a difference worth allowing the ridge tops of Pennsylvania to be dotted with giant industrial-sized windmills?
On June 29, 2006, I sent a two-page letter to Mr. Vought in regards to his and Gamesa's offer. This is a "quote" from that letter. "You stated (Tim Vought) that the first phase of wind-power development would consist of 30 wind-powered turbines, the first year (2007). Also, 30 more to follow in the second phase, which would be approximately two years, with other phases being considered." You stated this would be a definite because of the vast land holdings of Berwind Corporation (7,935 + acres) which were leased to Gamesa. Berwind-Gamesa lease of Nov. 22, 2005, in effect Gamesa leases the Windber Area Authority Watershed! Mr. Vought, John Kott was definitely 100 percent right in his statement! ...In closing, your letter to the editor, "Some simple facts" turns out to be another Gamesa "smoke-screen" containing nothing more than spin, half-truths, and in some cases such as the Windber Area Authorities cutting of timber - totally false and untrue statements!
Clean energy, no greenhouse gases, less dependence on foreign oil, guaranteed revenue for Tyrone - what's the catch?
Well, there are many definite and possible catches. Gamesa promises no negative impacts to Tyrone's drinking water, but I wonder if they can really build all of those giant wind turbines without erosion taking place. There is always the possibility of an accident as well.
According to Stan Kotala, spokesperson for the Juniata Valley Audubon Society, the small environmental gain from building the windmills would be offset by a huge ecological cost. Sandy Ridge has been identified as an Important Bird Area and a greenway. The wind turbines threaten birds and building them causes forest fragmentation. Mayor Kilmartin points out in his analysis, "... the structures will take up the ridge tops that people so tremendously love about this community."
And these are big structures, too. One can't really comprehend their 450-foot height until you get close.
Recent articles, stated the project will enhance the water quality at this site. Also, Gamesa states that protecting natural resources and wildlife is a "shared priority" with the community.
If this is so, then why was there a rattlesnake study of the area done in November (when snakes are hibernating)? Why did Gamesa do a study on bird migration in July, when bird migration doesn't start until late August, September and October? How does bringing in large equipment to clear-cut the forest and building new roads improve water quality of streams that are already of the highest quality in the state?
I made a trip up to Blue Knob today, in response to a constituent complaint to hear and see the new wind turbines located along the mountain top. ...It was a windy day and the blades were really moving. The complaint we received was about how disruptive the noise was. I agree after going to the site myself that the noise is disturbing and certainly carried to the home of the people who contacted me. I was also surprised at the ground area needed to facilitate the turbines, which includes a wide road cut into the woods.
There needs to be more discussion on the placement of these structures and their effect not only on the environment but on the people who live close by.
... because wind energy development has associated environmental costs, wind energy development should only be instituted on state lands if the environmental benefits can be demonstrated to exceed the environmental costs. ...
The environmental benefits of wind energy development, in the mid-Atlantic area in general and on Pennsylvania state lands in particular, are small relative to the negative consequences, which include habitat fragmentation and mortality to birds and bats.
The National Academy of Sciences concluded that long-term research is needed on the ecological impacts of wind turbines prior to their establishment on mid-Atlantic ridges. The academy recommended a minimum of three years for impact studies and that the results be made available for public and scientific scrutiny.
Full results of industry-funded research at the Shaffer Mountain site are kept under lock and key and are therefore of dubious scientific value. ...
The most reasonable compromise for the state Department of Environmental Protection and the state game commission is to place a moratorium on wind-turbine development in biologically important sites until the environmental impacts are fully understood.
An objective analysis of windmills as even a partial solution to our energy needs just isn't cutting it. The numbers just don't add up. It maybe time to use the old adage, "Liars can figure, but figures don't lie". Obviously, the American Wind Energy Association is a powerful lobby taking us in a direction that will only result in that warm and fuzzy feeling, but our lights may not come on. From the Rocky Mountains to Texas to Maine people are finally beginning to question the logic and effectiveness of wind energy.
Comparing Allegheny Ridge to Shaffer Mountain is like comparing apples to oranges. And these differences are the reason Gamesa's industrialization of this section of Shaffer Mountain will be stopped. It's all about the siting. The siting of these industrial facilities, if not regulated soon, may well doom the ablility of industrial wind to reach its full potential. The people of the Commonwealth are not going to stand for the destruction of the last of our highest quality wild habitats, especially when we have hundreds of thousands of acres of reclaimed strip mines, with great wind, that have already been destroyed.
Besides the fact that industrial wind turbines destroy habitat, endanger wildlife and disturb wetlands and streams, I guarantee that if you were told that when you look out of your picture window, instead of seeing the beautiful horizon, you will see an industrial turbine staring back at you, you would throw a fit. Well, that is what I will be viewing......If Gamesa proceeds with this, there will be nothing left for the next generation. We are mere tenants of this earth; it is our place to take care of it.
We belong to the earth, it does not belong to us. That is a world truth.
How did Gamesa Corporation, a wind-energy company from Spain, find Shaffer Mountain, a small section of the Allegheny Front in Pennsylvania, which lies in Somerset and Bedford counties?
Although we do not know all the details, we do know in 2004, that Gov. Rendell and Kathleen McGinty, secretary of Department of Environmental Protection, enticed Gamesa to abandon plans to build in Texas, by promising Gamesa that it would receive millions of dollars in grants, loans, and tax credits, financed with taxpayers' money.
Federal income tax shelters will allow Gamesa to avoid paying taxes owed and thereby recover two-thirds of the capital cost of each turbine - about $2 million each.
We also know that Gamesa has received tax-free status through 2018 by locating on land that is a Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone. Even before Gamesa started construction in our state, the company had purchase agreements and letters of intent to sell 400 megawatts worth of wind-generated power to Pennsylvania utilities.
But how did Gamesa find Shaffer Mountain? It's simple: Shaffer Mountain has wind.
Mr. Oldham mentions the report of hydrologist, James Casselberry, who, based on six pages of information Gamesa originally supplied, said the development would not hurt anything because the construction would be on the surface and WAA gets its water from deep wells. This conclusion is absurd. Last time I checked, water falls from the sky on the surface of the land - right where Gamesa wants to develop this project.
The WAA can stop this project dead in its tracks. It has the absolute legal right to do so under the land use agreement it signed with Berwind in 1989. In order to insure that the water supply for their 10,000 customers is not degraded, WAA must maintain their vote against this development.